In France “It takes even more courage then usual to be an entrepreneur” replied Marc Westermann, principal of telecommunications and internet corporation SFR Développement, when asked about the current climate for French-based start-ups. In the recent Global Competitiveness Index 2012-2013, a report which globally ranks the pillars of institutions, in which each pillar represents an area considered as an important determinant of competitiveness. In this report France was ranked 21st, sliding down three places from its position last year. The report states that this decline is due to the falling confidence and untrustworthiness in public and private institutions and the financial sector. It is true that it is a time of great upheaval in France. Like many European countries, France’s economy is currently facing numerous challenges. When socialist President Francois Hollande was elected in May last year his economic policy became a target for the press. Hollande’s 2013 Budget proposals concerned both corporate venturers and entrepreneurs, most notably for the proposed supertax on the countries top earners. The 75% ‘supertax’ effects individuals who earn €1m or more, and is applicable to around 1,400 people. However this has not stopped the tax being labelled ‘unfriendly to business’. Fabienne Herlaut, managing partner of Ecomobilité Ventures, an investment structure financed by SNCF, mobile phone operator Orange and oil major Total, said of the tax: “it affects, in reality, a very limited number of people in France but it will not encourage wealthy people to come and invest in France, it gives a poor image and motivation to the French young generation who wants to become successful entrepreneurs. They will leave France and launch their projects in other countries.” When asked the same question, Westermann emphasized that any subsequent halts in innovation within France would not be down to salaries of €1m, but because of taxes on stock options which “penalizes investors and don’t not give companies the leverage they need to grow”. There are more concerns over the fact that the market is not longer secure and that corporate ventures units may not be able to return profit. Positively, the same report also highlight the high standard of infrastructure within France, with its energy infrastructure, transport and communication links ranked among the best in the world (4th). The state-owned French National Railways (SNFC) operates ones of the fastest train services in the world, the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). France has the 2nd most developed high-speed rail network in Europe, with 1896 km…
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Feb 20, 2013 • Joanne Faulkner
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